Riviera’s webinar on ammonia as a marine fuel, sponsored by naval architect and marine engineering company NETSCo, gave timely and practical insights on the viability of ammonia in shipping, noting its production, supply and handling is already well-established
Based on a poll of industry attendees, it is a commonly-held belief that ammonia as a marine fuel will be a proven technology within five years. Some 60% of those polled agreed ammonia would be part of the fuels market by 2025, while 40% disagreed. And a higher percentage of respondents expressed interest in using ammonia, with 65% of webinar attendees saying they would be early adopters. Ammonia can be used as an internal combustion fuel through injection with a pilot fuel and as a carrier of hydrogen for cracking in fuel cells to produce energy and heat.
Presentations around the subject of ammonia as a marine fuel came from C-Job lead naval architect Niels de Vries, Yara International vice president of ammonia energy and shipping fuel Rob Stevens, NETSCo vice president Jan Flores, and NCE Maritime CleanTech project manager/project co-ordinator ShipFC, Tore Boge.
Mr de Vries noted in his presentation on safety in ammonia’s use as a fuel on board vessels that volumetric energy density was a key metric when comparing marine fuels.
“There is a huge improvement compared to pure hydrogen, but it is on the same level in production costs,” he said.
In another poll asking whether ammonia marine fuel will only happen with strict CO2 regulations from well-to-wake, 73% agreed or strongly agreed that would be the case. The balance for respondents appeared to be finding an acceptable well-to-wake cost.
Representing the ammonia producers, Yara has proven production, storage and logistics of ammonia can be done safely on a very large scale.
“When you look at ammonia as a marine fuel, it is all about closing the gaps. The gaps on cost, the gaps on supply security, safety regulation, and technology,” Mr Stevens said.
Yara is now planning and engineering a reintroduction of the production of green ammonia, something the company did between 1927 and 1991.
“We are going back to the future,” said Mr Stevens. As a company, Yara expects to be producing climate-neutral ammonia by 2050.
Should the drive to use ammonia as a marine fuel be the responsibility of ammonia producers? Only 11% of webinar attendees said it should. Nearly a third (32%) said it is the responsibility of regulators. The remaining votes were spread over assigning responsibility to new suppliers (15%), shipowners (23%) and renewables hydrogen supply (19%).
Mr Flores noted that NETSCo has experience of ammonia logistics in designing ammonia barges and through installing fuel cells. It was the hydrogen fuel cell installation on a ship that made NETSCo consider ammonia, he said.
“There were challenges with hydrogen storage capacity. We looked to ammonia to solve the storage issue,” he said.
A partly EU-funded project is developing a green ammonia-fuelled 2-MW SOFC offshore support vessel Viking Energy, due to hit the water in 2024. The vessel uses green ammonia in a large fuel cell with a battery array. The batteries will provide energy for instant load conditions.
Mr Boge is project manager of the ShipFC project, and noted the importance of the tie-ups involved in getting ammonia on board vessels.
“There is also a bigger picture in ShipFC. Converting a supply vessel will not help meet the IMO greenhouse gas targets by itself. We have (deepsea operators) Star Bulk, Capital Executive Shipping and North Sea Shipping as partners. They will provide vessel operations data, which will be combined with ShipFC data from Viking Energy. The analysis can be scaled up for the high-emissions deepsea fleet,” he said.
Whether ammonia becomes a maninstream marine fuel seems to come down to price. More than 65% of webinar attendees gave price as the main criteria, followed by ease of installation (25%) and familiarity (10%).
You can view the webinar, in full, in our webinar library.
And you can sign up to attend our upcoming webinars on our events page.
Panellists (left to right): NETSCo vice president Jan Flores, C-Job Naval Architects lead naval architect Niels de Vries, Yara International vice president of ammonia energy and shipping fuel Rob Stevens and NCE Maritime CleanTech project manager/project coordinator ShipFC, Tore Boge.